Single Mom, just starting custody proceedings, looking for empathy and advice!

Amy - posted on 02/04/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )




I'm a single mom. My daughter's dad moved out when she was 2 months old (so in her memory, they have never lived together). He recently decided to file for joint custody. Knowing his love of manipulating people and the way he thrives on "high drama" situations, I'm sure this move is 99% an effort to mess up my life ande 1% about actually spending time with and getting to know his daughter. I teach a college class two nights a week, and he has had an open invitation to babysit our daughter on the nights I'm teaching (which I've done since her birth); he has never once taken me up on it. He has stopped by on the nights I'm not there, but he can't commit to babysitting the entire 4-hour time slot. In fact, he always brings his older son with him, in order to have an excuse that he really can't stay long... our daughter has not seen him one-on-one more than a few times in her life: Xmas and her b-day up until age 4. Since turning 4, never.
So now, he wants some legal agreement re: custody and visitation, after 6 years of seeing her whenever it suited him, maybe once a week, maybe once a month (he has an older son, and sometimes he gets busy with the son; other times he suddenly remembers his daughter and will buy her $200 worth of clothes from the mall and start wanting to see her more...), with the same schedule for the so-called "child support" -- sporadic, just whenever he had some extra out of his paycheck.
I have seen 2 lawyers so far, and they weren't very encouraging... basically although he has done the bare minimum, since he's not a criminal, he will probably get some kind of visitation schedule. I am feeling so discouraged that someone who didn't want to help out during the diaper years, and who still never wants to help out with things like homework and dr appts and transportation to extracurricular activities and so on (LET ALONE CHILD SUPPORT!!!!), can still potentially get custody and weekends with our daughter. I realize that many parents out there deserve this privilige, but it still pisses me off that a parent can do no parenting for 6 years and then decide it might be kinda fun to have his daughter around on weekends! I just wish that there was a custody/visitation formula that took into account how many "key parenting moments" in the child's life the other parent missed, and those who didn't fulfill their quota of diaper changing, midnight ear infections, homework from hell nights, etc. are not allowed to ask for the same generous parenting plans as exes who DID stay in the child's life and who truly tried to be there for their child.
He is not a serial killer, but since our daughter was born, he keeps turning into more and more of a Peter Pan. He can't manage to pay $3 a month for our daughter's Gerber Grow Up Plan, let alone anything more costly or more complicated.
On a personal note, I want as little contact with him as possible. The only useful things I can see our daughter learning from unsupervised time with him are: how to deal with an egotistical jerk; how to live with a close family member who is incapable of empathy or selflessness or love; and how to assert herself when he tries to bully her into expressions of physical & emotional affection that she's not comfortable with. If we're lucky. I think it's unfair that she should be expected to be on her own with someone like him, though. I can see LOTS of therapy in her future if this really moves forward.
Is anyone else in a similar boat?
Has anyone else survived this nightmare?
I want to try for sole custody, but the lawyers act like it's barely worth considering. I just don't understand how the legal system can view him as (sort of) equal to me, and how he can still have any parental rights to exercise...
Please don't share any "tough love" or "devil's advocate" type responses. I am worn down and just want kindness and support right now. If I want tough love and devil's advocate views, I can talk to my parents-- thanks in advance!!


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Vicki - posted on 02/04/2014




I had the same problem with my sons father. I went for sole custody allowing him some visitation, I requested that he had my son for only 6 hours every other saturday and was not to take him over night due to the fact he had never really been around and he wasn't a constant in his life. I did not go into court with a lawyer I went in as a mother who knew what was best for her child. I simply told the judge that as a mother who knows her childs behaviour and habits I could not see my son reacting good to someone he couldn't truly bond with right away. The judge did look at me like I was crazy, but I then showed her that I was keeping track of everything that was happening and having all those notes about the times I tried to convince him to see his son and how he turned it down, or his coming and staying for an hour, going sometimes 2 months at a time even without a phone call to check on his son. I now have sole custody of my son and have all the rights to do as I see fit! His father now has more visitation with him (I have never denied him access to his child) I simply requested that for an 8 month period he was to pick his son up for 6 hours every other Saturday so that my son was comfortable around him< and so he could adjust to having his father there all the time without a big impact on his life. The judge made the condition that if over the 8 month period he only missed no more then 10 visits he was allowed to have his son saturday from 10am- sunday at 4pm
I know its a lot to deal with and a lot of stress but go in with your head held high and try and do what is right for your daughter. I fought for months and ultimately I won. I needed to know that it wasnt a phase his was going through and that he was going to be there constantly for my son and I didnt want my son getting hurt and confused if his father couldn't be bothered to spend the time he needed with his son.
Hope this will boost your spirits a little

Jodi - posted on 02/04/2014




As much as it sucks that your daughter has one pretty unstable parent, it will not result in years of therapy and a screwed up kid in the future. As long as she has one stable and loving home, and a supportive parent living there, she will be fine, I assure you.My 16 year old has lived with an unstable, only in your life when I have time, or if I feel like it, kind of father (despite the fact he DID get every other weekend custody, he often didn't use it) since he was 2. Even now, he sees his dad maybe once a month, although now that he's at an age where he's actually more interesting to his dad because they can do things together (and they are probably at around the same mental age - although I would suggest my son's mental age is a little older).

Honestly, it will be fine. Let her be the one to decide later if she wants her dad in her life. Kids figure it out on their own. My son knows his dad is flaky, but he loves him. He chooses to spend time with him (at his age, it is his choice). And he is not in therapy (and doesn't need to be - he's a very stable and well rounded young man).

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 02/04/2014




Get your attorney to file for primary & legal custody for you, and get support set

He will be allowed visitation, possible partial custody, and so far, according to what you're saying, he's not shown himself incapable of caring for a child.

You do need to recognize that he is the child's father, and, as such, does have the right to request partial custody. And, you're much better off than some, who get pregnant, never see the guy again until they get a summons to court, and then still have to give up partial custody of the child.

So, yes, the attorneys are pretty much telling you how it is. He's got rights, you've got rights, and the mature thing to do is come to a mutual agreement.

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